More imaginary papal warsMOLLIE HEMINGWAY
What often doesn't get much media attention is what the Holy Father has to say, but what received world-wide media attention last week were remarks that Pope Benedict XVI never made.
Here's how The Telegraph headlined its article:
And now I will give you the entire substantiation for the charge that the Pope "railed" and "warned parents against celebrity-inspired names":
Okay, now if you're waiting for the railing part, much less the discussion of celebrity names, you will be waiting for a long time. It didn't happen. At all. In any way. I've read both the devotion following the angelus and the homily from the mass, and this bit about celebrity names is not even close to being there. The words above, incidentally, come from the angelus. You can find translations of both here (scroll down, if needed). And here's another translation of the devotion from the angelus.
Apparently the Pope's words weren't newsy enough without inventing an angle and inventing quotes. This reminds me of the time that we were told by the Los Angeles Times that the Pope "railed against same-sex marriage" when in the real world he hadn't even mentioned it. I think we now know that when mainstream journalists say the Pope "railed against" something, they mean he didn't mention it.
The Independent appears to be a source for the faulty information (which has spread to US papers). By which I mean they appear to have made up a quote! The piece is headlined "For heaven's sake, Pope hopes to end trend for exotic names" and is written by one Michael Day "in Milan." He ramps up the rhetoric, too:
Now the Pope isn't just railing, he's DECLARING WAR. Keep in mind, again, that the pope hasn't even mentioned the topic. And apparently Michael Day in Milan has a direct line into the Pope's head because he reports that he "fears" something. No corroborating quotes are given to substantiate that claim.
Anyway, on to the invented quote. It's true that the Pope said something similar to the first part, except that you'll note it's changed slightly into a command from the blessing above. But, then again, I'm not entirely sure on which translation is more accurate. Translator experts, feel free to weigh in.
But that second part? Nowhere to be found in the translations of the Pope's words. Is it just made up? And even if it wasn't made up, you'll note that it's not a declaration of war or a mention of Chanel, Swami or Pesche. Maybe British journalists were jealous of American journalists this week and they wanted to just sit around and invent storylines, too.
Fact is that the Daily Mail had the best piece of the bunch. And even they had many inaccuracies and a completely wrong angle in their "Pope makes a plea to parents to give their children traditional names (are you listening Posh and Becks?)."
What's so ridiculous about these inventions and hystrionics is that the baby-naming topic is fascinating on its own. And a non-fantasy discussion of the Pope's words on Christian naming could still be used to discuss naming trends and mock people who made different naming decisions and what not. In fact, you have to be particularly uninspired to need false quotes and angles in order to discuss these things.
Major hat-tip to Opinionated Catholic on this one.
Mollie Hemingway. "More imaginary papal wars." Get Religion.org (January 12, 2011).
Reprinted by permission of GetReligion.org and Mollie Hemingway. The original posting of this article is here.
Mollie Hemingway is a Washington writer who writes for Get Religion. She is the author of Losing Our Religion.
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